While reliving memories from some of the more brash and hedonistic shows that have come to define Upchuck’s meteoric rise through Atlanta’s indie music scene since 2018, singer KT and guitarist Mikey remember one close call they had while heading to an afterparty.
As the story goes, half exhausted and half intoxicated, KT tripped and stumbled to the ground while getting out of the passenger seat of the car in which she was riding. She picked herself up to find that she was standing face-to-face with an Atlanta police officer. She straightened up and said hello, terrified about what was coming next.
Are y’all in the band Upchuck?” the cop asked.
“Yes, sir …” KT replied.
“My brother saw your show tonight,” the cop replied. “He said it was lit. … Have a good night. Be safe.”
Now, KT and Mikey both laugh about how lucky they were to have dodged that bullet. But it’s the kind of story that could only happen in Atlanta. It also encapsulates how erratic a night in the life of Atlanta’s music scene at full throttle can be for a group of young punks and restless artists. It’s a scene from which Upchuck has emerged to craft the ideal soundtrack with their Famous Class Records debut album, Sense Yourself, due out September 30.
It’s also a cautionary tale, hinting at some of the major themes that also define the group’s sound and vision: “Calls for social change, a call for introspection and to heal one another, calls for awareness, and a call for action, KT says. “Know what needs to be done and act on it, all the while managing to take time to have a good fucking time and release.”
Sense Yourself is teeming with the sounds of swaggering danger, while the deeply ingrained innocence of Upchuck’s eponymous anthem takes shape as a celebration of intensity — reaching a fever pitch at the top of the album.
Songs bearing titles such as “Boss Up,” “In Your Mind,” and “Our Skin” come out of the gate strong, complete with searing energy courtesy of guitarists Mikey and Hoff. Bass player Armando and drummer Chris’ rhythms are driven by a bounding sense of urgency and contempt. Musically speaking, there is no realm that Upchuck does not touch, as the group attacks creative post-punk and indie rock with a compelling blend of high-energy blasts and ’90s alt rock inflections, channeled through a haze of distortion. “Perdido,” sung entirely in Spanish by drummer Chris, builds energy around the phrase: “Hago lo que quiero” — I do what I want.
With “In Your Mind,” the group explores the realities of reaping what you sow.
But the album’s undisputed jam, “Facecard,” finds KT taking on the superficiality of modern America: “The trifling yuppie fuck, comes out beyond the cut to try and low ball, low ball,” KT sings.
Operating from an axis of punk, hip-hop, and alt rock, a sense of discovery, and the power of youthful energy culminating in a new music contained within these songs is intoxicating to the end.